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Update Bingo is onlines latest hit - 23-March-2009, 12:20

Bingo is onlines latest hit

Growing broadband connectivity plus the current economic downturn seems to be the right mixture for online Bingo. A study from Screen Digest forecasts bingo becoming the fastest-growing online segment of the gambling market.

Bingo halls and venues have experienced falling attendances and declining revenues for a number of years, and in some markets the smoking ban has exacerbated the problem. Operators have responded by marketing prizes to appeal specifically to a younger audience and by investing in improving their venues for all players. Many have begun offering online bingo in a bid to attract and retain the younger market, says Screen Digest.

The study adds: With operators generating over 220m of revenue in 2008 (by gross win), the UK is the largest, most mature and most competitive online bingo market. Given such intense competition, Screen Digest believes that many of the major players will expand into other markets, in particular Spain and select markets in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. Online bingo is particularly popular in Hispanic territories, especially Spain, where a number of UK-based operators are expected to launch services in the hope that broadband household penetration will continue to increase. In the other major European markets of Italy, France and Germany, legislation currently outlaws online bingo, but we expect 2009 to be the year it becomes a reality in Italy.

And Bingo seems recession resistant. Despite slowing growth in the final quarter of 2008, online active player numbers increased 80% between June and December last year. Financial results from key players in 2009 are expected to show that online bingo is growing at the expense of other forms of gaming. However in markets such as the UK where competition is fierce, operators will need to focus on the most successful marketing strategies to attract and retain players who are likely to become increasingly value-oriented, says the report.

Over the next 12-18 months, media and retail brands are expected to enter the market looking to maximise revenue opportunities from their extensive customer bases. At present, 5% of the leading 150 bingo sites are operated by retail brands and Screen Digest expects this to grow to 13% by 2010 as retailers, airlines, magazines and travel companies enter the bingo market. New entrants will have to make a choice between competing in the tough but well-developed UK market or set their sights on less developed markets such as India and China with their own regulatory and cultural challenges.

Rachael Church-Sanders, author of the report (Bingo in the Digital Age: Global Market Assessment and Forecasts), says: The online bingo sector has been enjoying a period of rapid growth in the UK and other key markets, and we expect to see this trend continuing, particularly outside the mature UK market. With the global recession encouraging people to stay in for a cheaper nights entertainment, we expect more people to play bingo at home in the hope of winning ever-more enticing prizes.

We also envisage opportunities for consumer-facing brands such as supermarkets who may consider launching their own bingo sites to engage with their core customers and diversify revenue their streams. I would not be surprised to see the emergence of bingo brands based on widely recognised supermarket or consumer goods brands in the marketplace in the medium term.
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